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    Sunday, December 03, 2023

    Shame on Kevin Ollie for comparing his plight at UConn to true racism

    And so comes another apocalyptic growl from Kevin Ollie and his mouthpieces, this time resorting to the odious practice of using racism as a negotiating tactic.

    Per an emergency injunction request filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court, Ollie claims UConn, from whom he’s trying to collect $10 million, has illegally prevented him from filing a racial discrimination complaint.

    The words: “In addition to terminating his employment without just cause in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, (UConn) has discriminated against (Ollie) on the basis of his race and color in violation of the federal state law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.”

    Give Ollie this much: He’s far more theatrical as a victim than he ever was as a coach. Perhaps Samuel Johnson was wrong when he said that patriotism is the last act of a scoundrel. Maybe it’s grandstanding.

    And that’s what this is: grandstanding borne of desperation.

    From someone whose name hasn’t been in the news much lately.

    The residual effect, however, is far more serious. Kevin Ollie’s decision to use racism for his personal gain insults every human being in this country who has been victimized by it. Worse, it cheapens the heinousness of the act, giving fodder to the unenlightened who like to mock racism by preaching to bigoted choirs.

    Kevin Ollie grandstands. He cries “racism.” And the Neanderthals dismiss it in that boy-who-cried-wolf sort of way, thus leaving the real victims swimming upstream.

    I don’t know if Mr. Ollie has ever encountered true racism in his life. My fervent hope is that karma intercedes and places Mr. Ollie in the path of a true victim sooner rather than later. And the victim embarks on an informative monologue to educate Mr. Ollie.

    Kevin Ollie didn’t get dismissed because of his skin color.

    He was dismissed because he just wasn’t a good enough coach anymore.

    And he was careless enough to give UConn just cause to avoid paying him the $10 million left over from his contract.

    Screams of racism generate headlines, sure. It’s just that the facts, while not as sexy, scream a little louder.

    Here are the facts:

    I called an old friend of mine who works as an athletic director at a Division I institution in the east. He began at another school, cultivating a deep background in NCAA compliance. I asked him about Ollie's misdeeds, which include shooting baskets with a recruit during an unofficial visit in September of 2017; arranging a video call between a potential recruit and Ray Allen (now considered a school booster by the NCAA); and Ollie arranging improper training sessions with a friend who is a personal trainer both on campus and during out of state trips that amounted to improper gifts.

    “The violation involving the trainer and the expenses to travel to Atlanta is a serious one,” my friend said. “I would fire a coach for that. Saint Mary's went on probation for five years for the same thing a few years ago.”

    Per the NCAA report, St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett “knew of impermissible offseason workouts by Saint Mary's players conducted by outside basketball trainers and conditioning coaches.”

    Hence, Ollie should consider himself fortunate to get a dime out of UConn, given that 1) the NCAA has placed a program on probation for a similar violation in the past; and 2) an administrator familiar with compliance believes the violation to be serious.

    It is perfectly logical to wonder about UConn's motives with $10 million in the balance. But then, based on the evidence, how can anyone sans agenda deny Ollie's hands are dirty here, too?

    And that has nothing — nothing — to do with racism.

    Racism is very real in this country. It happens every day. To innocent people. And their stories get harder to tell when grandstanders use the scourge for personal gain.

    Kevin Ollie and his mouthpieces should be ashamed of themselves.

    But do the shameless really ever feel anything?

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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